Re-enacting the Past: Essays on the Evolution of Modern English Historiography, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Re-enacting the Past

Essays on the Evolution of Modern English Historiography, 1st Edition

By Joseph M. Levine


318 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789536
pub: 2004-07-14

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How and why did modern historiography take on its present form? Re-enacting the Past addresses the problem in England by looking at some of the ways that the Renaissance and the Reformation affected writing and thinking about history, and left a legacy to modern historiography. Professor Levine concentrates on how neoclassicism in the early modern period both reflected and shaped the English use and understanding of the past. At the same time he shows how religious controversies were also engendering a deepening recourse to history and a new sophistication about historical evidence. By the end of the 18th century, convictions in an ancient perennial wisdom and in the Bible as literal history had been thoroughly challenged and a truly modern historiography was largely in place. Levine concludes with a set of essays about some contemporary views of history, disputing with Quentin Skinner, Peter Novick and Thomas Kuhn, while extolling the virtues of R.G. Collingwood.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. Part 1 History and the Classics: Ancients and Moderns reconsidered; Jonathan Swift and the idea of history; 'Et Tu Brute?' History and forgery in 18th-century England; Why neoclassicism? Politics and culture in 18th-century England. Part 2 History, Religion and Science: Sir Walter Ralegh and the ancient wisdom; Latitudinarians, neoplatonists, and the ancient wisdom; Deists and Anglicans: the ancient wisdom and the idea of progress; From tradition to history: Chillingworth to Gibbon; Nicolson as a virtuoso. Part 3 R.G. Collingwood and the Modern Idea of History: The autonomy of history: R.G. Collingwood and Agatha Christie; Collingwood, Vico, and the Autobiography; Idea of history; Natural history and the history of the scientific revolution; Method in the history of ideas: More, Machiavelli, and Quentin Skinner; Objectivity in history: Peter Novick and R.G. Collingwood. Index.

About the Author

Joseph M. Levine is Distinguished Professor of History at Syracuse University, USA.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General